Our own first-year hops plants have given us enough flowers for a small batch of beer! It was easy to handle using the food dehydrator, and I’m looking forward to brewing with it.
The friend who gave me the rhizomes (root chunks) to start the patch doesn’t use his hops, and offered to let us pick some. We were asked to leave half of it intact, because he has another friend who uses hops, but by the time we’d taken maybe a third of it we had one and a half industrial-size Hefty bags full of heavily flower-laden vines. We were up into the wee hours that night trimming off the flower cones, with the poor dog tied up outside because hops can be deadly poisonous to dogs.
Yesterday morning there was still a good amount of untrimmed hops left, and after a few hours of cutting I had several paper grocery bags full. This was not going to fit into the dehydrator.
I found three identically sized framed window screens (scavenged after renovation of a nursing home) and joined them on the long sides with our good friend Mr. Duct Tape, making a triangular tunnel. The “back” end was covered with one of the hefty bags, and I shaped a bit of hardware cloth to serve as a removable door for the front.
After hanging this device from the ceiling in the shed, I put our box fan under it to circulate air up through the hops. The flowers are piled a couple of inches deep in the dryer, so I’m stirring the pile up regularly, and it seems to be working well.
Here’s the latest bit of hillbilly engineering, a large herb dryer that I estimate cost about 5 cents (for the duct tape):